Spontaneous Pandemic Trip: Day 3 – Sunday
Sunday meant Hollywood Studios for us and I was most nervous, anxious, and excited about trying to get a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. I’d been hearing in the week or so leading up to our trip that folks were having a really easy time getting a boarding group at the 1:00 PM release, but since we had dinner reservations that night at California Grill, I wasn’t confident we’d get on the ride in time, unless we got a boarding group during the 7:00 AM release.
We set our alarm for a bit before 7 and I basically sat staring at my phone on the main screen in MyDisneyExperience, not letting the screen go dark, until it was time to join a queue. 7:00 came and I don’t even remember if I was holding my breath or what, I couldn’t tell you what any of the screens said (except I did see it auto-selected my party so I didn’t have to add my husband). I finally breathed easy when I saw we had boarding group 38 and would probably be getting on the ride around noon!
Fulcrum shirt and space buns ready, we headed out.
We were arriving just before rope drop, so we decided to go straight to Slinky Dog Dash since my husband has never ridden it and I only rode once but absolutely loved it.
It seemed like they literally dropped the ropes earlier than park open, tho, because we got to Toy Story Land before 9:00 and no one was at the entrance and were all already in line for the ride. The wait said 45 minutes but we decided it would be ok to wait because we’ve had such good luck so far. 23 minutes later, we were boarding the ride.
After Slinky, we walked onto Alien Swirling Saucers and then waited maybe 5 minutes for Toy Story Mania and by then it wasn’t even 10:00 yet.
Having already completed everything in one land of the park, we headed for coffee and breakfast and to relax a bit. We scrolled the wait times while we sat and couldn’t believe what we were seeing.
After breakfast, we headed down Sunset for our favorite Hollywood Studios rides.
Unfortunately, Tower of Terror was showing temporarily closed, but we waited about 10 minutes for Rock ‘n Roller Coaster (another absolute favorite of ours) before heading over to Batuu for a bit.
Black Spire Outpost, Batuu, Galaxy’s Edge, whatever name you prefer to use, will always have me in complete awe. Anyone who’s ever been to a Disney park knows how skilled the Imagineers are at immersing us in the worlds they’ve created, but there’s something about seeing this fictional universe from my childhood turned into a real life place I can walk through that’s just extra-amazing to this 30-something nerd.
I was too full of coffee and bagel and didn’t want to ride Smuggler’s Run because I can be a bit iffy on that ride, and we’d at least both done it before, so we tracked down Savi’s workshop so we know where to go if we end up building our own lightsabers on our next trip, wandered past a First Order Tie Fighter with Kylo Ren and some Storm Troopers heckling the locals, shopped (look at this adorable R2 shirt I got!), and then OUR BOARDING GROUP WAS CALLED.
I actively avoided seeing and reading anything about Rise of the Resistance since it opened because I wanted the entire experience to be a complete surprise. With that, I will only share a photo I’ve seen many versions of a floating around already and will say it absolutely blew our minds and was beyond incredible. If anyone wants to hear more details, I would LOVE to chat with you about it more, but I promise not to spoil it here.
After we picked our jaws up off the ground, we decided to brave the long line at Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway railway, since we’d never ridden it (it opened since our last visit). The posted wait was 40 minutes and most of the queue was outside and, even with umbrellas and fans, it was a toasty 36 minutes until we got on. The ride itself was a lot of fun but I really can’t stand this new animation style and I hate that it’s actually made its way onto an attraction.
After that, we did see that Tower of Terror was reopened and, while it did show an hour wait, we decided to get in line. For the first time this trip, the posted wait time was accurate. It was also the hottest day of the trip and the air was stagnant with hardly any breeze at all. The queue seems a lot longer and a lot less shady in those circumstances, but we did eventually get to ride and are glad we did because we just love that ride so damn much.
As we headed out, we encountered a Pixar cavalcade that bid us farewell as we went to go shower and change for dinner.
The walk back is so beautiful. It’s definitely tiring putting the extra steps on your feet, but being able to walk to and from 2 of the parks is so nice!
Our dinner reservation was for 7:15 but I knew I wanted to request a table in the window with a castle view, so we arrived almost an hour early to give as much time as possible to accommodate our request. We got all checked in, told them we’re celebrating our 5th anniversary, and asked if we could grab a seat at the bar while we waited.
Now, if you’re not familiar with California Grill, the check-in desk is on the 2nd floor but the restaurant is on the 15th floor. So the staff needs to check back and forth over their radios to ensure availability before sending people up. We were told we should be set but would get a text and app notification when we could head up to the bar, so we walked across the lobby to sit down. No sooner had our asses hit seats and one of the hosts came back over and said we actually could go up to the bar now.
We got upstairs, were escorted to 2 open seats (and they left an empty seat between us and the party next to us, and sat down. Ray introduced himself, we ordered drinks, and off he went to pour my wine and make my hubby’s maple old fashioned. Before he even brought the drinks back, I got a notification that our table was ready. We weren’t sure if that was delayed and was actually for our space at the bar since we never actually got that notification, so my husband went to check. The gentleman at the host stand said we were welcome to stay at the bar for a while and wait, but he strongly encouraged taking the table right then because we probably wouldn’t get a better one.
We settled up with Ray, shared our apologies that we didn’t get to spend more time with him, and made our way to our absolutely incredible table with the most perfect view!
Our server Sonja came over and introduced herself but we hadn’t even begun looking at the menu yet because we were too busy taking in the views!
We finally settled on 2 appetizers: the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli and the Braised Beef Short Rib Wontons and holy hell, they were both incredible! They also bring you bread with roasted garlic sun dried tomato oil, and there was nothing wrong with it and it was good bread, but we both only ate a little because we were far more interested in the food we going to order all night. Sonja also brought us champagne for our anniversary!
My husband also decided to try the Plant-Based Forbidden Roll and it was really delicious (and beautiful!).
Dinner was the 20-oz. Bone-In Ribeye Steak for my husband and the Grilled Pork Tenderloin for me. I asked Sonja for a wine recommendation to pair with mine and she brought me a sweet red that was perfect and very delicious.
We were approaching time for Happily Ever After to begin and we asked if we were able to pop out onto the observation deck to watch before they brought our dessert but Sonja suggested we actually watch from our table. I didn’t realize it, but they dim the lights and play the music in the restaurant during the show and we had such incredible seats, it’d have been silly to go stand outside for it. As always, it was incredible, and the perfect way to view the show for our final time.
In addition to coffee for me and green tea for my hubby, dessert was Valrhona Chocolate-Passion Fruit Brownie and No Sugar Added Mango Mousse with Green Tea Chiffon (based on our beverages, I’ll let you guess whose was whose).
We sipped and nibbled a bit during the fireworks and savored every last moment of an absolutely incredible meal. The service was absolutely stellar, the food was beyond anything I can describe, and the views are unparalleled. It was the most perfectly spectacular way to spend the final evening of our trip.